Jewish Rituals in the Home

Putting Up A Mezzuzah

Mezuzah klaf are handscribed on parchment and should be checked twice every seven years and repaired or replaced if you can no longer read every character, similar to a Torah.

Roll the parchment from the end to the beginning so that the word Sh’ma is on top.

Place it in the mezzuzah case. The mezzuzah should be affixed to the upper third of the right-hand doorpost (as you enter) but no less than one handbreadth (the width of your hand) from the top. It should be tilted with the top facing inward towards the entrance.

Say the following blessings:

Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu likboah mezuzah.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has made us holy with mitzvot and instructed us to affix the mezuzah.

Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam she-hecheyanu vekimanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and helped us to reach this moment.

When moving to a new home, leave your mezzuzah for the new family if they are Jewish.

Lighting Shabbat Candles

Lighting a candle in the darkness is the most elemental human symbol of hope. When you light these candles, you reenact God’s opening act of creation — “Let there be light.” You also provide warmth — emotional as well as physical — for your home. Candle lighting sets this day apart; it creates sanctity and invites the Shekhina, God’s maternal presence, to be your honored guest and sit at your table. For women, it reinforces a bond of memory between mother and daughter going back hundreds of generations. May this be a peaceful and loving Shabbat, for you and all who share your home.

Candles are lit between 18 and 90 minutes prior to sunset on Friday evening.

Light the two candles.

It is traditional but not required to draw your hands around the candles and toward your face. This is commonly done three times, but can be done up to seven times. You would then cover your eyes with your hands while saying the blessing:

Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has made us holy with mitzvot and instructs us to kindle the lights of Shabbat.

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This is a traditional time to make a prayer for your family or friends.

Greet those around you with Shabbat Shalom and with the affection conveyed by a smile, a hand-shake, a hug or a kiss.

Making Shabbat Evening Kiddush

Raise the cup of wine or grape juice by holding it in your hand, cupped at the bottom.

Vayehe erev, vayehe voker, yom hashishi. Vayechulu hashamayim ve’ha-aretz vechol tzeva’am vayechal Elohim bayom ha-shevi’i melachto asher asah. Vayishbot bayom hashevi’i mikol melachto asher asah vayevarech Elohim et yom hashevi’i vayekadesh oto ki vo shavat mikol melachto asher bara Elohim la’asot.

Now the whole universe – sky, earth, and all their array – was completed. With the seventh day God ended the work of Creation; on the seventh day God rested with all the Divine work completed. Then God blessed the seventh day and called it holy, for with this day God had completed the work of Creation.

Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam boray p’ri ha-gafen.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

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Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam ahser kidshanu bemitzvotav veratza vanu veshabbat kodsho be’ahavah u’vratzon hinchilanu zikaron le’ma’asay vereshit ki hu yom techilah lemikra’ay kodesh zecher l’tziyat mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta ve’otanu kisahta mikol ha’amim veshabbat kodshecha be’ahava u’vratzon hinchaltanu. Baruch atah Adonai mikadesh ha-Shabbat.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and takes delight in us. In love and favor, You have made the holy Sabbath our heritage, as a reminder of the work of Creation. It is first among our sacred days, and a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt. O God, You have chosen us and set us apart from all the peoples and in love and favor have given us the Sabbath Day in your love and favor. Praised are You Adonai for the Sabbath and its holiness.

Then drink the wine or grape juice.

HaMotzi – Blessing over the Shabbat Challah

Cover the Challah with a cloth during the candlelighting and Kiddush.

Uncover the Challah and hold it up for the blessing:

Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam hamotzi lechem meen ha’aretz.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

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Pass the Challah for all to share.

Havdalah – Observing the Conclusion of Shabbat

Pour kosher wine into a Kiddush Cup. Buy or make a spice box (or pouch; something that smells like good spices). Light special braided Havdalah candles.

As you say the first prayer, take a sip of the wine. As you say the second prayer, smell the savory spices. As you say the third prayer, watch the light reflected off of your fingernails. And as you say the fourth and final prayer, dip the burning candle into the wine. Listen to the sizzle of Havdalah, the end of Shabbat.

Blessing over wine:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, bo’re p’ri hagafen.

Blessing over spices:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, bo’re minei b’samim.

Blessing over braided candles:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, bo’re m’orei ha’esh.

Blessing over Havdalah:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech h-aolam, ha’mavdil bein kodesh l’chol, bein or l’choshech, bein yisrael la-amim, bein yom ha-sh’vi’i l’sheshet y’mei ha-ma’a’se. Barukh ata Adonai, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’chol.